Ad Age: Black Marketers in Advertising – Why Diversity Leads to Increased ROI and Authenticity

Black Americans make up 7.2% of the marketing industry workforce, which is up from 6.6% in 2021—but below the 12.1% Black representation in the U.S. population. Given that consumer marketing needs to appeal to the entire country, more Black marketers are needed.

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April 5, 2023
Zekeera Belton – Vice President of Client Services

Studies show that more than 70% of Black consumers—greater than any segment—think that too many brands haven’t done their research when incorporating diversity (race, ethnicity and sexual identity) in their advertising.

Indeed, more than 50% of almost every major demographic group feels this way. This means billions of dollars in advertising are going to waste, in effect translating to marketers paying to be ignored—or even canceled. Hiring more marketers from diverse backgrounds, especially Black people, is a first step in rectifying this problem. Marketing teams need those who have the lived experience of being Black in America. The result would be more authentic marketing that should lead to an increase in business performance.

Marketing teams need look no further than our education system for the benefits that would emerge from hiring more Black marketers. Studies noted by both the Brookings Institution and The Washington Post show that having Black teachers improves long-term academic outcomes for Black students—and has a positive impact on non-Black students as well. Black teachers often advocate for Black students to succeed in their classes in ways that non-Black teachers do not; Black students excel when exposed to such instruction and leadership.

The same holds true for marketing: Even one Black marketing professional in the room can be an advocate for more diverse representation and inclusivity in ways that non-Black professionals cannot. This isn’t to ignore the allyship from non-Black industry professionals, but they don’t inherently know where to start.

To explore that point further, consider the disruption factor. Given their knowledge and background, Black teachers often disrupt harmful rhetoric in classrooms. They are more likely to tie social justice issues to class conversation that benefit not only Black students but the entire student population.

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Zekeera Belton

Zekeera Belton

Zekeera Belton is the Vice President of Client Services at Collage Group. Zekeera's oversees the team that acts as an extension of member organization by fostering deep relationships and leveraging the full set of Collage capabilities—strategies, insights, analytics, data, peer solutions and commercial collaboration—to plan and craft specific solutions that meet member challenges. Zekeera is a results-driven marketing and communications executive with 20 years of proven performance executing private and public (government) sector B2B, B2C, and G2M campaigns and programs. She has expertise in all aspects of marketing, from strategy to execution with real world know-how of the national, regional, and grassroots strategies needed to reach niche markets, such as multicultural Americans, women, LGBT, and people with disabilities. Prior to joining Collage Group, Zekeera served as a Marketing Director for Penn, Good & Associates, a marketing services consulting firm located in Washington, DC. Zekeera holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a double concentration in Finance and Management, from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Washington DC.

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